- Fantastic Team
- 8min read
- Published: April 24, 2019
- Views: 42
Getting Rid of Lawn Moss – What the Experts Say
Do you have a problem with moss on your lawn?
We know, it’s unsatisfying and annoying, to say the least. But don’t worry, as there are various remedial solutions that you can apply, in order to restore the uniform texture and green look of your turf.
This post will help you understand the causes for this and the ways of getting rid of lawn moss, as well as explain how to prevent it from appearing again.
What is moss and what does it look like?
Mosses belong to the Bryophyta division – a type of classification of plants, which don’t produce flowers. They usually thrive in damp, shady and acidic-soil conditions, with some exceptions, and reproduce through spores. On that note, some types grow in lime, alkaline or very dry acid soils. There are more than 12 000 species, but British garden lovers usually have to deal with just a few common types of the tuft-forming plant. For instance, the fern-like species Eurhynchium and Hypnum can be quite troublesome and cause issues on many types of turfs. These mosses trail among the grass blades, on moist soils, creating a spongy mat on your lawn. Depending on their variety, mosses can be dark green, light green, blue-green or yellowish green in colour and more. They can grow loose in between the grass stems, giving you that springy feel when walking over your lawn. Or the plant can appear like a thick, dense mat, formed by clumped-together, solid-looking but soft tufts of green growth.
Often, mosses are confused with other non-vascular plants like hornworts and liverworts, as well as with lichens, which are composite organisms from the symbiosis between different fungi and algae.
Moss on lawn – causes
There are various causes for moss, growing on lawns. This may be a temporary problem, a permanent feature on your turfed area or a seasonal “characteristic” of your lawn, say, when winter moss (Ceratodon purpureus) appears every year on your grassed plot, for instance.
Below, we list the most common reasons for lawn moss that could be spoiling your turf:
- General lawn maintenance neglect
- Patchy lawn with bare spots
- Soil compaction
- Wet/waterlogged soils with drainage issues
- Too much shade from trees, shrubs and buildings
- Seasonal changes and weather conditions
- Scalping/cutting the grass too low
- Poor soil nutrient status
- Scarcely growing lawn grass
- Overly acidic dry soil
- Diseased/insect-infested turf
When should you remove moss
There are different opinions on when to get rid of moss, but based on our expertise, you’re most likely going to succeed in this quest in the spring or autumn. As moss spores, in the UK, in April and September, the general advice is to try to remove it before the plant starts to reproduce and spread. Furthermore, physical moss elimination methods cause some degree of stress to your turf. So, in relation to this, getting rid of the unwanted plant in early spring and autumn gives the lawn a better chance to recover. During the onset of spring, the grass is yet to prepare for the growing season and if you remove moss in the autumn, the turf has plenty of time to “recuperate”, repair itself and get stronger in the forthcoming winter.
Note that your lawn needs plenty of moisture and relatively mild weather, in order to mend itself with the help of fertiliser after you’ve applied the appropriate moss killing or removal technique. Hence, summer and winter, when the temperatures could be too high or too low, and rainfalls are somewhat scarce, is the time, deemed unsuitable for getting rid of moss.
How to solve moss problems
Getting rid of lawn moss is possible if you have some patience and knowledge. Most importantly, once you determine the likely reasons for the moss invasion on your turf and the extent of the issue, you’ll be able to make a decision on the right approach. There are some effective physical methods and general lawn maintenance techniques, as well as widespread chemical moss control or DIY solutions, suitable for moss problems, both small or gone a bit out of hand. On that note, you can apply a combination of moss elimination and prevention methods at the same time.
Our tips on how to get rid of moss are:
Scarification involves the physical removal of moss, thatch build-up and weeds with a tool. Depending on the size of your lawn, you can use a rake, a manual/walk-behind scarifier or a petrol/electric scarifier. If you use a powered scarifier, make sure to cut the grass, first, before you proceed with raking out the moss build-up. Also, note that the soil should be moist – not too dry and not overwet. If you decide to apply a moss killing agent beforehand, ensure to give it enough time to work, as recommended on the product label instructions, before scarifying your turf. Don’t forget that you can hire a combo type of 3-in-1 equipment that, with the appropriate attachments, becomes a lawn mower, a scarifier or an aerator.
Use a moss burner blowtorch
Another non-chemical way of removing the undesired plant is applying an easy moss spot-killing method by using a burner blowtorch. However, the technique is suitable for small moss build-ups that have appeared here and there on your lawn. Pay heed not to damage the surrounding grass and repair the bare patch that would emerge after clearing up the burnt moss remnants and spores with some grass seeds.
Overseeding is a versatile way of maintaining the health of your turfed area. You can resort to it if the grass is growing thin all over or apply it as an effective method of fixing a patchy lawn. And of course, overseeding the bare spot, once the moss has been removed, will help you prevent the latter from coming back. Just make sure to add some compost over the area and evenly sprinkle on top and mix in your grass seed material.
Remove trees and branches
Pruning branches that cast shade over the moss-infested area will make the removal task more successful. If needs be, you may have to consider felling the tree altogether to deter the moss plant from emerging again. However, you’ll still need to make the effort of removing physically the tufts of matted growth, either way. Also, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate whether you’ve got the most suitable type of grass growing on your lawn. After all, if the area suffers from limited sunlight exposure, consider sowing shade-tolerant grass or laying turf that thrives in predominantly shady gardens.
Improve lawn vigour
You can probably guess that proper lawn care will minimise the risk of moss growing on your lawn or weeds overtaking the grass. So, make sure that you don’t neglect regular lawn maintenance jobs and most importantly, don’t complete them in the wrong time of the year. Or in other words, feed, irrigate, aerate and topdress the turfed area correctly to avoid poor soil nutrient conditions, waterlogging/drying out, soil compaction and drainage issues, and so on. Improve soil texture and its nutrient status by mixing in organic matter in spring and autumn. Test the pH of your soil and adjust it accordingly if needs be with lime, especially when considering that most moss varieties prefer acidic soils.
Sometimes, chemical methods need to be applied, if your lawn is covered with large areas of moss tufts. You can use a moss-killing product (ferrous sulphate) alone or apply a combo treatment that contains a fertilising agent, as well. This way, you can still rake the blackened moss and rest assured that grass health will be enhanced. Again, spring and autumn is the time when it’s best to spray your grassed plot with a moss killer.
Кeeping moss away – expert tips
To keep moss at bay, you should apply good lawn maintenance practices, which also act as preventative measures against moss. Although we’ve already mentioned some, let’s see what they are in more detail!
- Cut the grass regularly – Regular lawn mowing at the right setting for the time of the year will ensure that the grass grows strong and thick, giving moss no chance to establish.
- Increase the hours of sunlight – As we’ve explained, moss flourishes in shade. So, try to estimate how many hours a day your lawn gets exposed to direct sunlight. And if needed, remove woody plants or trim off several branches.
- Relieve soil compaction – Your lawn’s health will get affected if the soil is not aerated once or twice a year. Once grass becomes weak and thin, due to compacted soil around its roots, this will encourage thatch, weeds and moss to overtake your turf.
- Improve drainage and water with care – Most common types of lawn moss thrive well in damp soils, with some exceptions. So, never over water your lawn and make sure that the soil doesn’t suffer from drainage issues by improving its texture with sand and organic matter.
- Address pest infestations and fungal problems – Again, if some creepy crawlies are damaging the roots of the grass or the turf suffers from some sort of disease, this will lead to the overall poor health of your lawn and promote the appearance of moss and weeds.
- Fertilise at least once a year – Feed your lawn in the autumn or spring (or both), again, to ensure the vigorous and lush growth of grass instead of weeds, dandelions and moss.
Dispose of moss the right way
Did you know that you can add the raked-out moss to your compost bin and reap all the benefits the following year? After all, one of moss’s commercial uses is the production of peat, especially out of species from the Sphagnum genus. Preferably, mix the moss with other organic matter in the proportion of 1:4 to ensure that it doesn’t take too long to decompose properly.
To summarise what we’ve learned, here are our final thoughts on getting rid of lawn moss and how to keep it from coming back:
- Moss is best removed in the autumn or spring.
- Winter moss will die naturally in the spring, but it’s still best raked out.
- Moss can be a problem on artificial turf, too. Use only special chemical agents to kill it.
- General lawn care on a regular basis is the ideal way to prevent moss from establishing on your lawn.
- With care, you can apply a homemade moss killer by using baking soda or dish soap, diluted in water.
- Did you know that moss can be a good thing if your garden has issues with erosion?
- Not all types of moss grow in damp and acidic-soil conditions. So, determine what kind of plant you’re dealing with, in order to remedy the problem effectively.
And if you wish to consult with an expert on lawn maintenance or get help with the care of your turf, you can always contact Fantastic Services!
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Did you find our post helpful? Or do you have your own tips on removing moss from lawns? Then, please, use the comment space below and share your advice with our avid readers!
Header image source: Shutterstock / By stephen chatterton
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